Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Election Year

Now that the New Year is upon us, and the first Moment of Truth draws near, it’s time to define ourselves. Who will win the presidential nominations and the final prize?

My friend Jerry started a parlor game tradition for the holidays, in which everyone has to say who they think (not favor) will be the winning nominees and finally the president-elect. He asked a roomful of us that, on tape, at a 1979 New Year’s Eve party in New York, and not one person predicted that Ronald Reagan would become the president a year later. It all seems so inevitable after the fact, but it certainly was not at the time.

The results of replaying this game have been quite fascinating because the answers change from one holiday to the next. During Thanksgiving festivities everyone was convinced that Giuliani would take the nomination and carry on to win next November (myself not included). When we entered the pre-Christmas season, Giuliani’s name had all but disappeared from the buzz in favor of Hillary, McCain, Romney and even Huckabee (who was still a second-tier dark horse).

By New Year’s Eve the predictions had shifted again, but interestingly enough there’s no sign of consensus, which seems to coincide with what the polls are saying, too: who knows? There was still plenty of polemic and emotional engagement with the outcome although it’s hard to see how it can last through this endless election season.

Personally, I would love to see a candidate with the foreign policy chops of Joe Biden, the populist, kick-butt rhetoric of Edwards, the careful homework of Clinton’s team and the iconoclasm of a Richardson or a Kucinic. Throw in the lanky boyishness of Obama, and an out-front defender of secularism and/or the rule of law (none of the above), and you’ve got the candidate I want to vote for.

As for the Republicans, God only knows who will win, and since they claim to be consubstantial with the Holy Ghost, I don’t understand why they need to have primaries at all. I guess it’s to spend some of the money pouring in from the guys they’ve made so happy in the last 20 years.

However, given the total mess Huckabee has made of his 15 minutes of fame, it would be grand to see him win and tie the entire party’s collective panties into a real Gordian knot. A Republican meltdown would force the Democrats to define themselves more concretely instead of clambering over one another to occupy the mushy center.

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